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Emoticons originated with text representations.
Graphical emoticons range from simple to complex.
Graphical emoticons range from simple to complex.
Graphical emoticons range from simple to complex.

An emoticon (pronounced i-moh-ti-kon) is a textual portrayal of a writer's mood or facial expression. They are often used to alert a responder to the tenor or temper of a statement, and can change and improve interpretation of plain text. The word is a portmanteau of the English words emotion (or emote) and icon. In web forums, instant messengers and online games, text emoticons are often automatically replaced with small corresponding images, which came to be called emoticons as well. Examples of widely known emoticons are the smiley face :) and the frowny face :(

Early emoticons go back to the 1800s and commonly arose when casual/humorous writing was common. The emoticons on the Internet can largely be traced back to a proposal by Scott Fahlman in a message of 19 September 1982.


[edit] History

[edit] Antecedents

Emoticons published in the March 30 1881 issue of Puck.

The National Telegraphic Review and Operators Guide in April 1857 documented the use of the number 73 in Morse code to express "love and kisses" (later reduced to the more formal "best regards"). Dodge's Manual in 1908 documented the reintroduction of "love and kisses" as the number 88. Gajadhar and Green comment that both Morse code abbreviations are more succinct than modern abbreviations such as LOL.[1][2]

A transcript from Abraham Lincoln's speech written in 1862 appears to contain a "winking" emoticon, but it is unclear whether it is an actual use, a typo or a legitimate grammatical construct.[3]

Typographical emoticons were published in 1881 by the U.S. satirical magazine Puck. In 1912 Ambrose Bierce proposed "an improvement in punctuation — the snigger point, or note of cachinnation: it is written thus \___/! and presents a smiling mouth. It is to be appended, with the full stop, [or exclamation mark as Bierce's later example used] to every jocular or ironical sentence".[4]

Emoticons had already come into use in sci-fi fandom in the 1940s,[5] although there seems to have been a lapse in cultural continuity between the communities.

It has been widely reported and copied across the Internet that an early instance of using text characters to represent a sideways smiling (and frowning) face occurred in an ad for the MGM movie Lili in the New York Herald Tribune, March 10, 1953, page 20, cols. 4-6. (See "Creation of :-) and :-(" section below.)

However, the above is incorrect. The advert does not in fact use text characters, but instead uses a hand-drawn "Smiley" with the normal orientation. This can be confirmed by visiting the New York City public library where a copy of the newspaper for that day is held on microfilm, which can be requested online at http://www.nypl.org/express/.

In 1963 the "smiley face", a yellow button with two black dots representing eyes and an upturned thick curve representing a mouth, was created by freelance artist Harvey Ball. It was realized on order of a large insurance company as part of a campaign to bolster the morale of its employees and soon became a big hit. This smiley presumably inspired many later emoticons; the most basic graphic emoticon that depicts this is in fact a small yellow smiley face.

In a New York Times interview in April 1969, Alden Whitman asked writer Vladimir Nabokov: "How do you rank yourself among writers (living) and of the immediate past?" Nabokov answered: "I often think there should exist a special typographical sign for a smile — some sort of concave mark, a supine round bracket, which I would now like to trace in reply to your question." [6]

[edit] Pre-1980 emoticons

Teletype machine operators, as early as 1973[citation needed], and probably long before that date, used "emoticons" to express themselves. Teletypes were limited to the keys of a standard typewriter keyboard plus a few special characters. Teletype operators developed a sort of shorthand to communicate among themselves. These shorthand notations became the foundation of "emoticons" as computers began to replace teletypes on university campuses.

A common Plato emoticon created by typing O←*←$

By the early 1970s, people on the PLATO System were using emoticons.[7] They had many of the advantages of later character-based emoticons because they could be used anywhere that you could type text and new emoticons could be created whenever someone thought up a new one. They also had many of the advantages of later graphical emoticons because they used character overstriking which created graphical images.

Several Internet websites —such as BT's Connected Earth[8]— assert that Kevin Mackenzie proposed -) as a joke-marker in April 1979, on the MsgGroup ARPANET mailing list. The idea was to indicate tongue-in-cheek — the hyphen represented a tongue, not a nose. Others used :-) for tongue-in-cheek, with the colon representing teeth. Also used was -:) to indicate sticking out your tongue, in derision or anger. Although similar to a sideways smiling face, the intended interpretation was different and this does not appear to have inspired the later smileys.

In the late sixties the APL programming language and timesharing environment, with its rich character set with backspace and overstrike capability provided a fruitful arena for interactive and creative symbol invention. Union, backspace, overstrike Dierisis was a recognised and upright smiley in the early seventies.[citation needed]

[edit] Creation of :-) and :-(

The first person documented to have used the emoticons :-) and :-(, with a specific suggestion that they be used to express emotion, was Scott Fahlman;[9] the text of his original proposal, posted to the Carnegie Mellon University computer science general board on 19 September 1982 (11:44), was thought to have been lost, but was recovered twenty years later by Jeff Baird from old backup tapes.[10]

19-Sep-82 11:44    Scott E  Fahlman             :-)
From: Scott E  Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c>
I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:
Read it sideways.  Actually, it is probably more economical to mark
things that are NOT jokes, given current trends.  For this, use

Within a few months, it had spread to the ARPANET[11] (the early Internet) and Usenet.[12] Many variations on the theme were immediately suggested by Scott and others.

[edit] Graphical replacement

In web forums, instant messengers and online games, text emoticons are often automatically replaced with small corresponding images, which came to be called "Emoticons." Similarly, in some versions of Microsoft Word, the Auto Correct feature replaces basic smileys such as :-) and :-( with a single smiley-like character. Originally, these image emoticons were fairly simple and replaced only the most straightforward and common character sequences, but over time they became so complex that the more specialized emoticons are often input using a menu or popup windows, sometimes listing hundreds of items. Emoticons have also expanded beyond simple cartoon facial expressions to a variety of still or moving images. Some of these graphical emoticons do not actually represent faces or emotions; for example, an "emoticon" showing a guitar might be used to represent music. Further, some instant messaging software is designed to play a sound upon receiving certain emoticons.

Many applications use text codes, which become replaced with a graphical emoticon. For example, :dance: or (dance) could be replaced with a graphical dancing emoticon.

An August 2004 issue of the Risks Digest (comp.risks on USENET) pointed out a problem with such features which are not under the sender's control:

It's hard to know in advance what character-strings will be parsed into what kind of unintended image. A colleague was discussing his 401(k) plan with his boss, who happens to be female, via instant messaging. He discovered, to his horror, that the boss's instant-messaging client was rendering the "(k)" as a big pair of red smoochy lips.[13]

Many sites use GIF or PNG graphic files, because of their transparency and small file size capabilities. Files can be created using a raster graphics editor. Many emoticon artists design their emoticons pixel by pixel. Some emoticons are made in vector format, such as SVG, and automatically processed using a graphics library. This allows SVG files to be automatically rendered as a GIF or PNG file, which is compatible with most browsers, which SVG is not.

[edit] Western style

Traditionally, the emoticon in Western style is written from left to right, the way one reads and writes in most Western cultures. Thus, most commonly, emoticons have the eyes on the left, followed by the nose and mouth. To more easily recognize them, tilt your head toward your left shoulder (or occasionally toward your right shoulder if the "top" of the emoticon is toward the right).

[edit] Common western examples

The most basic emoticons are relatively consistent in form, but each of them can also be transformed by being rotated (making them tiny ambigrams), with or without hyphen (nose), and so on:

Icon Meaning Icon Meaning Icon Meaning
Smiling, happy
frowning, Sad
Large grin or laugh
Tongue out, or after a joke
Shocked or surprised
:/ :-\
Bored, annoyed or awkward; concerned.
Confused, embarrassed or uneasy

[edit] Variation

There are endless possibilities because people are very good at creating and interpreting pictures as faces. See ASCII art.

An equal sign is often used for the eyes in place of the colon, without changing the meaning of the emoticon. In these instances, the hyphen is almost always either omitted or, occasionally, replaced with an 'o' as in =O).In some circles it has become acceptable to omit the hyphen, whether a colon or an equal sign is used for the eyes.[14] In other areas of usage, people prefer the larger, more traditional emoticon :-). In general, similar-looking characters are commonly substituted for one another: for instance, o, O, and 0 can all be used interchangeably, sometimes for subtly different effect. In some cases, one type of character may look better in a certain font and therefore be preferred over another.

Some variants are also more common in certain countries because of reasons like keyboard layouts, for example the smiley =) is common in Scandinavia where the keys for = and ) are placed right beside each other. Also, sometimes, the user can replace the brackets used for the mouth with other, similar shapes, such as ] and [ instead of ) and ( .

Diacritical marks are sometimes used. An O or U with an umlaut, Ö, Ü can be seen as an emoticon, as the upright version of :O (meaning that one is surprised) and :D (meaning that one is happy).

[edit] Eastern style

Users from East Asia popularized a style of emoticons that can be understood without tilting one's head to the left. This style arose on ASCII NET of Japan in 1986.[15] Similar looking emoticons were used by Byte Information Exchange (BIX) around the same time.[16]

These emoticons are usually found in a format similar to (*_*). The asterisks indicate the eyes, the central character, commonly an underscore, the mouth, and the parentheses, the outline of the face. A large number of different characters can be used to replace the eyes, which usually is where the emoticon derives its emotive aspect (contrasting the Western emoticons' emoting through the mouth). Different emotions can be expressed by changing the character representing the eyes, for example ' T ' can be used to express crying or sadness (T_T). The emphasis on the eyes is reflected in the common usage of emoticons that use only the eyes, e.g. ^^. Looks of embarrassment are either represented by (x_x) or (-_-;). Characters like hyphens or periods can replace the underscore; the period is often used for a smaller, "cuter" mouth or to represent a nose, e.g. (^.^). Alternatively, the mouth/nose can be left out entirely, e.g. (^^). The parentheses also can often be replaced with braces, e.g. {^_^}. Many times, the parentheses are left out completely, e.g. ^^, >.<, o_O, O.O, <.<; A quotation mark ", apostrophe ', or semicolon ; can be added to the emoticon to imply apprehension or embarrassment, in the same way that a sweat drop is used in anime culture. Many other characters can be appended to also indicate arms or hands, e.g. <(^_^)> or \(^o^)/ or ⊂( ゚ヮ゚)⊃ or (/.\) => (\^o^/) (peek-a-boo) or <(-.-<) or /(T_T)\.lml(^o^)lml Rock on!

Microsoft IME 2002 (Japanese) or later supports the use of both forms of emoticons by enabling Microsoft IME Spoken Language Dictionary. In IME 2007, it was moved to Emoticons dictionary.

Further variations of emoticons may be produced by using Combining characters, e.g. ̼⌂̺͛ᴖ̲̿ᴥ̲̿ᴖ̺͛⌂̼

[edit] Common eastern examples

Icon Meaning Icon Meaning Icon Meaning
laughing out loud
thumbs up (not ears)
sad (crying face)
sleepy person
cheers, "Hurrah!"
sweating (as in ashamed), or exasperated.
"Surprise !."
"Nonsense, I don't know."
shifty, suspicious

[edit] Korean Style

In South Korea, emoticons using Korean Hangul letters have been getting popular lately as well. Korean styles of face emoticons are similar to those of Japan's, but they contain Korean jamos (letters) instead of other characters. There are countless number of emoticons that can be formed with such combinations of Korean jamos, but popular choices include letter ㅅ or ㅂ as the mouth/nose component and ㅇ,ㅎ,ㅍ for the eyes. For example: ㅇㅅㅇ, ㅇㅂㅇ, -ㅅ-. Faces such as 'ㅅ', "ㅅ", 'ㅂ' using quotation marks " and apostrophes ' are also commonly used combinations. Vowel jamos such as ㅜ,ㅠ can be used in substitute to T, when depicting a crying face. Example: ㅜ_ㅜ, ㅠ_ㅠ. Sometimes the underscore is omitted, and the two letters can be mixed together, as in ㅜㅠ.

Single or multiple ; (Semicolons) are often used together with faces depicting embarrassment, for an added effect. Also, other characters may be added to indicate hands, similar to the Japanese emoticons; but usually they are only attached on the right. Example: -ㅅ-a (scratching one's head), 'ㅅ'b (Thumbs up), 'ㅅ'ㅗ (The finger)

In some cases, like ㅎ_ㅎ, the emoticon can mean an emotion even when it is not depicting a face of any specific emotion. Letters ㅎ and ㅋ are widely used in Korean internet as a sign of laughter (similar to the usage of "w" in Japanese Web); and so the emoticons using those letters as the eye component can be interpreted as a laughing face.

Also, ㅇㅈㄴ is a Korean version of "orz" mentioned above, depicting a man kneeling down.

[edit] Western use of East Asian style

English-language anime forums adopted those emoticons that could be used with the standard ASCII characters available on western keyboards. Because of this, they are often called "anime style" emoticons in the English-speaking Internet. They have since seen use in more mainstream venues, including online gaming, instant-messaging, and other non-anime related forums. Emoticons such as <(^.^)>,<(^_^<),<(o_o<), which include the parentheses, mouth or nose, and arms (especially those represented by the inequality signs < or >) also are often referred to as "Kirbies" in reference to their likeness to Nintendo's video game character, Kirby. The parentheses are usually dropped when used in the English language context, and the underscore of the mouth may be extended as an intensifier, e.g. ^___^ for very happy.

[edit] Mixture of western and East Asian style

Exposure to both western and East Asian style emoticons or emoji through web blogs, instant messaging, and forums featuring a blend of Western and Asian pop culture, has given rise to emoticons that have an upright viewing format. The parentheses are similarly dropped in the English language context and the emoticons only use alphanumeric characters and the most commonly used English punctuation marks. Emoticons such as -O-, -3-, -w-, ' - ', ; - ;, and .V., are used to convey mixed emotions that are more difficult to convey with traditional emoticons. Characters are sometimes added to emoticons to convey a anime or manga-styled sweat drop, for example: ^_^' or >_<!.

There are also more faces along those lines like >o<; using the ; as a sweat mark, and the "o" as a mouth, and the inequality signs as the eyes, it shows stress, or slight confusion. The amount of emoticons that can be made are limitless, and all have their own meaning.

[edit] Ideographic style

The letter 囧 (U+56E7), which means 'bright'[17], is also used in Chinese and Taiwanese community for frowning face.[18] It is also combined with posture emoticon Orz, such as 囧rz. The letter existed in Oracle bone script, but its use as emoticon was documented as early as 2005-01-20.[19]

Other ideographic variant for 囧 include 崮 (king 囧), 莔 (queen 囧), 商 (囧 with hat), 囧興 (turtle), 卣 (Bomberman).

The letter 槑 (U+69D1), which means 'plum', is used to represent double of '呆' (dull), or further magnitude of dullness.[20] In Chinese, normally full characters (as opposed to the stylistic use of 槑) may be duplicated to express emphasis.

[edit] 2channel style

The Japanese language is usually encoded using double-byte character codes. As a result there is a bigger variety of characters that can be used in emoticons, many of which cannot be reproduced in ASCII. Most kaomoji contain Cyrillic and other foreign letters to create even more complicated expressions analogous to ASCII art's level of complexity. To type such emoticons, the input editor that is used to type Japanese on a user's system is equipped with a dictionary of emoticons, after which the user simply types the Japanese word (or something close to it) that represents the desired emoticon to convert the input into such complicated emoticons. Such expressions are known as Shift JIS art.[citation needed]

Users of 2channel in particular have developed a wide variety of unique emoticons using obscure characters. Some have taken on a life of their own and become characters in their own right, like Mona.

[edit] Posture emoticons

[edit] Orz

Orz (also seen as _| ̄|o, OTL, Or2, Orz, OTZ, O7Z, Sto, Jto, _no, 囧rz) is a Japanese emoticon representing a kneeling or bowing person, with the "o" being the head, the "r" being the arms and part of the body, and the "z" being part of the body and the legs. This stick figure represents failure and despair. It is also commonly (mis-)used for representing a great admiration for (sometimes with an overtone of sarcasm) someone else's view or action. It was first seen in late 2002. It was first used at the forum on Techside, Japanese personal website. At the "Techside FAQ Forum" (TECHSIDE教えて君BBS(教えてBBS) ), a poster asked about a cable cover, typing "_| ̄|○" to show a cable and its cover. Others commented that it looked like a kneeling person, and the symbol became popular. These comments were soon deleted as they were considered off-topic. However, one of the first corresponding reactions can be found on the thread on "Techside Chitchat Forum" (Techside一言板。) at the Internet Archive, on December 23, 2002, and spawned a subculture in late 2004.[21] Orz is associated sometimes with the phrase "nice guy" — that is, the concept of males being rejected for a date by girls they are pursuing with a phrase like "You're a nice guy," or "I'd like to be your friend."[citation needed]

Though people generally use the pictograph to show that they have failed and/or they are in despair, some users use it to imply being doubled over in laughter. It is not to be read phonetically; the letters are spelled out.[citation needed] Orz should not be confused with m(_ _)m, which means an apology.

In the Chinese and Taiwanese community, Orz or orz can also be used as admiration towards one's accomplishment in addition to the Japanese meaning.[citation needed]

Orz (also written in lower-case as 'orz') is sometimes used as a replacement for the popular humour phrases 'lol' & 'rofl' (Rolling on the floor laughing) as it can also appear as a figure knelt down holding his stomach which can be interpreted as laughter.[citation needed]

[edit] Others

Another common posture emoticon is OGC, which depicts a man in the process of masturbation. The emoticon is used to express appreciation or sarcasm toward a sexual topic or image, it became widely used after awareness was raised by a subsequently revised logo for the Office of Government Commerce.[22]

[edit] Multimedia variations

A portmanteau of emotion and sound, an emotisound is a brief sound transmitted and played back during the viewing of a message, typically an IM message or e-mail message. The sound is intended to communicate an emotional subtext.[citation needed] Many instant messaging clients automatically trigger sound effects in response to specific emoticons.

Some services, such as MuzIcons, combine emoticons and Adobe Flash music player in a widget.[23]

In 2004, The Trillian chat application introduced an feature called "emotiblips", which allows Trillian users to stream files to their instant message recipients "as the voice and video equivalent of an emoticon".[24]

In 2007, MTV and Paramount Home Entertainment promoted the "emoticlip" as a form of viral marketing for the second season of the show The Hills. The emoticlips were twelve short snippets of dialogue from the show, uploaded to YouTube, which the advertisers hoped would be distributed between web users as a way of expressing feelings in a similar manner to emoticons. The emoticlip concept is credited to the Bradley & Montgomery advertising firm, which hopes they would be widely adopted as "greeting cards that just happen to be selling something".[25]

In 2008 an emotion-sequence animation tool, called FunIcons was created. The Adobe Flash and Java-based application allows users to create a short animation. Users can then email or save their own animations to use them on similar social utility applications.[26]

[edit] Emoticons and intellectual property rights

Patented drop down menu for composing phone mail text message with emoticons. US patent 6987991

In 2000 Despair, Inc. obtained a U.S. trademark registration for the "frowny" emoticon :-( when used on "greeting cards, posters and art prints." In 2001, they issued a satirical press release, announcing that they would sue Internet users who typed the frowny; the joke backfired and the company received a storm of protest when its mock release was posted at technology news website Slashdot.[27] They subsequently issued another press release a month later in response to the reaction their claim had generated.[28]

A number of patent applications have been filed on inventions that assist in communicating with emoticons. A few of these have issued as US patents. US patent 6987991, for example, discloses a method developed in 2001 to send emoticons over a cell phone using a drop down menu. The advantage over the prior art was that the user saved on the number of keystrokes.

In Finland, the emoticons :-), =), =(, :) and :( were trademarked in 2006 for use with various products and services.[29]

In 2008, Russian entrepreneur Oleg Teterin claimed to have been granted the trademark on the ;-) emoticon. A license wouldn't "cost that much - tens of thousands of dollars" for companies, but would be free of charge for individuals.[30]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Joan Gajadhar and John Green (17 July 2003) (PDF). An Analysis of Nonverbal Communication in an Online Chat Group. The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand. http://www.openpolytechnic.ac.nz/research/wp/res_wp203gajadharj.pdf. [dead link]
  2. ^ Joan Gajadhar and John Green (2005). "An Analysis of Nonverbal Communication in an Online Chat Group". EDUCAUSE Quarterly 24 (4). http://www.educause.edu/apps/eq/eqm05/eqm05411.asp?bhcp=1. 
  3. ^ Is That an Emoticon in 1862? - City Room Blog - NYTimes.com
  4. ^ Ambrose Bierce (1909–1912). ""For Brevity and Clarity"". Collected Works (N.Y. and Washington). 
  5. ^ Gregory Benford, A Scientist's Notebook: net@fandom.com, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Vol. 90, No. 6 (June 1996), p. 90
  6. ^ Nabokov (March 1990). Strong Opinions. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-72609-8. http://lib.ru/NABOKOW/Inter11.txt. Retrieved on 2009-03-24. 
  7. ^ Dear, Brian L.. "Emoticons and smileys emerged on the PLATO system in the 1970s in a unique and different way.". http://www.platopeople.com/emoticons.html. Retrieved on 2008-12-17. 
  8. ^ Connected Earth: The growth of e-mail
  9. ^ ":) turns 25". Associated Press. 2007-09-20. http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/09/18/emoticon.anniversary.ap/index.html. Retrieved on 2007-09-20. 
  10. ^ See Fahlman's website for a reconstruction of the entire thread
  11. ^ James.Morris at CMU-10A (1982-10-10). "Notes - Communications Breakthrough,". net.works. (Web link). Retrieved on 2008-12-18.
  12. ^ Curtis Jackson (1982-12-03). "How to keep from being misunderstood on the net". net.news. (Web link). Retrieved on 2008-12-17.
  13. ^ Hawkins Dale (2004-07-30). "Emoticon-interpreters create risks in instant messaging services". comp.risks. (Web link). Retrieved on 2009-03-24.
  14. ^ Denoser
  15. ^ The History of Smiley Marks[1]
  16. ^ Jargon file, version, 2.6.1, february 12, 1991
  17. ^ Baidu: 囧
  18. ^ 生僻字大行其道 "囧"衍生出各種表情
  19. ^ 心情很orz嗎? 網路象形文字幽默一下
  20. ^ Baidu: 槑
  21. ^ Boing Boing. "All about Orz". http://www.boingboing.net/2005/02/07/all-about-orz.html. Retrieved on 2009-03-24. 
  22. ^ Simpson, Aislinn (2008-04-25). "OGC unveils new logo to red faces". Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1901656/OGC-unveils-new-logo-to-red-faces.html. Retrieved on 2008-05-06. 
  23. ^ "Muzicons.com - music sharing widget". http://www.muzicons.com. Retrieved on 2008-06-25. 
  24. ^ Cerulean Studios: The Creators of Trillian and Trillian Pro IM Clients
  25. ^ AdWeek Article about Emoticlip[dead link]
  26. ^ Animated Faces and Emoticons / Digital Elite Inc.
  27. ^ Schwartz, John. "Compressed Data: Don't Mind That Lawsuit, It's Just a Joke," New York Times, January 29, 2001
  28. ^ Despair, Inc. "Facing International Outrage, Despair, Inc. Founder Offers Apology, Compromise on Emoticon Ban". http://www.despair.com/demotivators/acompromise.html. Retrieved on 2008-06-25. 
  29. ^ "Tavaramerkkilehti" (PDF). Tavaramerkkilehti (National Board of Patents and Registration of Finland) (10): 27–28. 2006-05-31. http://tavaramerkki.prh.fi/lehti/tm/Tavaramerkkilehti10S_2006.pdf. Retrieved on 2007-06-16. 
  30. ^ BBC News: Russian hopes to cash in on ;-) [2]

[edit] Further reading

  • Walther, J. B., & D'Addario, K. P. (2001). "The impacts of emoticons on message interpretation in computer-mediated communication". Social Science Computer Review 19: 323–345. 
  • Wolf, Alecia. 2000. "Emotional Expression Online: Gender Differences in Emoticon Use." CyberPsychology & Behavior 3: 827-833.

[edit] External links

[edit] Examples

[edit] Japanese emoticons

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